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John Ford

Machinations of Religious Liberty

In 1965, a relatively young Catholic layman and University of Notre Dame law professor named John T. Noonan, Jr. published a much anticipated study of the Catholic Church’s history with the issue of contraception. I call your attention to the term “history” because it was that aspect of Noonan’s work that was at the center of an emerging debate. In John T. McGreevy’s excellent and nearly classic text, Catholicism and American Freedom, he situates the reception of Noonan’s book within a debate among heavyweight Catholic theologians over the relationship between church doctrine and the acids of history. McGreevy writes: “Noonan…traced Read more